Start with fresh, room temperature butter
Compose your flavors
Herbs, spices, aromatics: Ginger, shallots, garlic, scallion, fresh herbs, cracked or ground spices, citrus zests just scratch the surface. Herbs should be very dry before mincing them and adding them to the butter.
Salt: Though you may prefer your plain butter unsalted, a little fine sea salt really helps bring out the flavor of all the ingredients in a compound butter.
Acid: Vinegar or citrus juice adds balance to the mix. Blend in a few drops at a time.
A touch of sweetness: Sweet compound butters, with a bit of honey or superfine sugar, are delicious on warm breads and waffles. They can also be great on savory dishes, like a sage and honey butter on fish.
Wild card flavors: There are lots of other additions that are worth experimenting with—anchovy paste, dried fruit, cocoa, green tea powder, various extracts, etc.
Plus, having some compound butter handy for a last-minute dinner saves you prep work and dish-washing.
I licked the plate clean after eating these seared scallops with a compound butter of roasted garlic, vanilla bean, a few drops of bourbon (that the vanilla had soaked in), and salt. This was my favorite compound butter of the week.